THE HAWAII FIVE-0 NEWSLETTER
Volume 1 July/August, 2005 Issue 4
BERNARD CHING: FIVE-0 REALITY INJECTOR
By Jerry Pickard, UH '72
Meeting with a Five-0'er who was/is in any type of genuine law enforcement and/or corporate security, can make a fellow wanna 'come clean.' This was the immediate impression formed when getting together, in May '04, with Bernard Ching. After all, how many of the interviewees in this newsletter series have had three known contracts on their life??
It began with the mechanics of gaining access to him at work within Sears at Ala Moana Center in May 2004. An appointment had been made, and your 'nervous-nerd' reporter showed up, meekly, as scheduled. But first, one had to announce one's arrival to someone behind what might have passed for a one-way-glass screening booth in the busy, utilitarian non-retailing section of the store, followed by a bit of a wait and then finally, the magic upward flip of a hand. Permission to enter - approved.
Bernard's windowless office, like the 66-year old himself, is very functional, spared from almost total austerity by a handsome, largely framed collection of what appeared to be family and personal milestone memorabilia, awards and the like.
He was quite affable, relaxed further perhaps by often propping up a pillow behind his head after changing sitting positions. As he was technically 'on the beat' at Sears, our talk-story was limited. Yet it seemed quite sufficient to gain a few additional meaningful insights into The Show and another of those parsonages who made it unique.
After the pilot Cocoon (he was uncredited), and the first season which was a miss for him, Bernard had roles in some two to three episodes each succeeding year. As Kimo Kahoano had also pointed out, to appear more frequently meant the likelihood of being subjected to strict network consent; plus, viewers could be lulled into expecting to see the actor on a fairly regular basis.
Bernard often portrayed being a member of HPD (which he was in actuality), but confided that his preference was more to be cast in villainous roles. Why? More fun, and also more money as it usually involved multi-day contracts. Some of the episodes he was in, included Three Dead Cows at Makapu’u, The Ninety-Second War, McGarrett is Missing, and A Touch of Guilt.
As with almost all the locally hired performers, Bernard had never acted previously nor had he received any training in this endeavor. But he must have caught on to either the system or the technique (or both) rather early on, for he stated he was never 'chewed out' by Jack Lord. This was quite unlike many others, who did incur the 'temperamental' Lord's wrath which Bernard often saw expressed by JL's flying off the handle if someone missed a line. As Ching noted too, when Jack was around 'everyone had to watch their p's and q's!'
After auditioning for Cocoon along with five other hopefuls who he thought were really good, Bernard said he had already given up on getting the part and was leaving the room when Ted Thorpe and Leonard Freeman called him back. Clearly, he had struck the right chord, which lasted as long as the series. Another Bernard, Assistant Production Manager Oseransky, ensured that Ching was given first chance at many roles, often without requiring a preliminary reading.
A memorable anecdote occurred during the making of Welcome To Our Branch Office, directed by Charles Dubin. Frank Gorshin and Cameron Mitchell, comic and western actor respectively, had been issued two-way radios to facilitate communications with the director during a moving car segment at Diamond Head. During a lull in the action, Gorshin and Mitchell began to kid around with their radios, to pass the time. Dubin could hear this, so with accompanying loud swearing, ordered them to cut the horseplay and shut up. Bernard decided to have some fun with this, and grabbed one of the radios, announcing officiously 'This is the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). We have been monitoring this frequency and will be attending at your location shortly to fine the sender of the last transmission for using profane language-would you kindly identify yourself?' Dead silence from Dubin, but Gorshin and Mitchell almost literally went into hilarious convulsions, switch off.
Ching described Mitchell as almost always 'right on,' seldom making any errors on the set. In one scene, however, Gorshin messed up his lines on two consecutive takes. The third effort went flawlessly...until the very end, when Mitchell came out with what sounded like Japanese speech-which was not at all in the script. Dubin hollered angrily, 'Cut. Now what the hell was that all about?' To which Mitchell bare-facedly replied, 'Hey, he gets to screw up twice, I'm allowed once, right?!' So, they ended up having to do it all again. It seems that the characteristic sense of humour, which Bernard recalled as belonging to Dubin, was sorely tested when Mitchell and Gorshin got into their antics.
Bernard looked back at Five-0 as 'just a great series, fun to watch,' and confessed he still catches the odd episode now and again. He remembered Loretta Swit as highly talkative, Khigh Dhiegh as quite moody (and reclusive, isolating purposely from his fellow performers), and that from his own perspective, there was no socializing among the cast members away from the set. His concise description of the final season: a 'stinker.' When it was all over, he did get called to read for Magnum, but was unable then to adjust his work schedule to meet the needs of that show. He said he was never called back.
Perhaps the most chilling aspect of our interview, came toward the end. Bernard confided that, as part of his Honolulu Police career, he was sent into deep undercover assignment, for TEN YEARS. His specialty had become organized crime intelligence, and he had to infiltrate the Yakuza, generally regarded in Japan and beyond as being at least on a par with the Mafia. A photo of himself from that era was produced: it depicted a very mean, bearded and scarred individual. Bernard worried at first that, because of his regular exposure on Five-0, he would be recognized. Then he joked that his fears subsided when he realized that, "to most of society, 'if you're oriental, you all look alike.'" (!) But his disguise was effective because, he said, when undercover and going into a bank to cash a $25 cheque, he had to produce numerous pieces of ID; when he was his normal self, all cleaned up, no questions ever.
Reporters from Sixty Minutes once flew to Hawai'i to speak with him about his Yakuza stint for one of that venerable show's segments; later, they wrote a book about this Asian underground organization. At 20 years after leaving HPD and working for Sears, Bernard looks back at his TV stints, which included Barnaby Jones as well as Five-0, with contentment.
As this journalist left his office, I looked back too, and forward and on the sides as well. Thoroughly but rapidly. Thanks, pal!
I thought everyone might enjoy a look back at some of the original Hawaii Five-0 Fan Club’s newsletters. Thanks to one of our members, I have several copies of what was mailed out to its members (the newsletters were only available by hardcopy back then). I would love it if any of the original members of the Iolani Irregulars who would like to share their stories or copies of the old newsletter would contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m going to try to start with the oldest articles if I can. Here are the first two of many copies I’ve been given.
ADVANCE PROGRAM INFORMATION
CBS TELEVISION NETWORK – 51 WEST 52 STREET, NEW YORK, N. Y. 10019
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
For Station Management only
SERIES: HAWAII FIVE-0
TITLE: “Blind Tiger”
AIR DATE: December 31, 1969
IN BRIEF: McGarrett is temporarily blinded by an explosion, and must live the the knowledge that he is the target of an unknown killer.
THE ACTION: A bomb is planted in McGarrett’s car and it explodes causing an injury to the optical nerve and blinding him. Although eager to leave the hospital and return to his duties, Steve is forced to remain in the hospital by his own limitations and an order from the governor. While McGarrett learns to function in a world of darkness, assisted by a dedicated nurse named Edith Lavallo, Danny conducts the Five-0 investigation. Several suspects are tracked down but their alibis make it impossible for them to have been the assailant. When Five-0 discovers how the bomb mechanism was triggered, it leads them to search for a mechanic employed at a local auto agency. They arrive at the agency to find the mechanic has left work several minutes before, and when they search his locker, they find evidence indicating he will strike again. In the hospital, the assailant, a man named Masterson, who is attempting to kill McGarrett to keep him from testifying against his son, sets off another explosion in a hallway as a distraction while he sneaks into McGarrett’s room. In McGarrett’s room Masterson pulls a gun but Nurse Lavallo knocks the weapon out of his and switches off the lights. In the darkness, McGarrett is more than a match for Masterson and, after a brief struggle, he subdues his assailant and his Five-0 men arrive to make the arrest. Based on viewing.)
PRODUCER: Leonard Freeman
DIRECTOR: Abner Biberman
WRITER: Teleplay By: Jerome Coopersmith
Story by: William Robert Yates and Jerome Coopersmith
CAST: Jack Lord, James MacArthur, Zulu, Kam Fong, Marion Ross,
Richard Denning, Robert Edwards, Bob Gleason, and Harry Endo
Jack Lord’s Artwork
Among the many files I have received was this little tidbit about Jack Lord’s artwork being shown in Hawaii. The article was in the May 1993 newsletter for the Iolani Irregulars. I have reproduced it here for your enjoyment.
This clipping was sent to them by Mr. William Atkinson of Honolulu. The gallery ad featuring Jack Lord appeared in the Sunday Star-Bulletin and Advertiser, September 24, 1972. (Note that the signature on his art is “John Lord” rather than “Jack Lord”.)
Invites you to see
(Editor’s note: Sorry for the poor picture but was in bad condition in the file.)
Paintings and Graphics
Ala Moana Center
On the Mall
Ed Cory says of Jack Lord: “You get the Gauguin feeling in his palm trees ---- the Hawaiian feeling ---- the Polynesian feeling. His art work is strictly innate. There is a great deal of depth ---- there is great originality, and vibration of colors.
A word from our sponsors:
Anyone interested in copies of Hawaii Five-0 episodes (mostly all full versions) can contact Barbara Brindle at 105 Warren Road, Sparta, NJ 07871. Unfortunately, Barbara does not have an email address so you’ll need to phone her at 973-729-9232. Her rates are reasonable and she’s very reliable.
Ron Evans, owner of e/p Partners, http:\\www.networksplus.net/caseyguy/epPartners.htm, also offer VCR tapes of Hawaii Five-0, Jack Lord and James MacArthur, among others. His email is email@example.com.
Hard copies of the newsletter are available.
The Hawaii Five-0 Newsletter is available in print form. Membership is $10 per year for four issues (foreign subscriptions are $14.00 US funds). Checks for membership may be made out to Annette Nixon/H50FC. To mail your membership dues contact Annette Nixon through her email at Spinkick@colint.net and she will give you her address. Any additional financial contributions are always welcome. The newsletter will be available on the 15th of January, April, July and October.
Submissions for the newsletter are always welcomed and can be emailed to Terri Whitman at TW1151@Comcast.Net. Deadlines are one month before each issue.
You can still contribute to the Memorial. Just sent it to: Jack and Marie Lord Trust c/o Hawaii Community Foundation, 900 Front Street Mall, Suite 1300, Honolulu, HI 96813. This fund was established in 1988 and was set up by the Lord’s to benefit their favorite charities. We have been assured that while personal responses are not possible, Mrs. Lord is made aware of all contributions.
See you in October 2005
Be There! Aloha!